Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh met on Monday in the Gaza Strip, bringing Hamas and Fatah closer to reaching an agreement on a new unity government.
According to Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar, a deal for a new government could be reached later Monday between Hamas and Fatah. He said he expected Haniyeh and Abbas to agree on a new premier during their meeting.
Hamas officials said that current Palestinian Health Minister Bassam Naeem was the leading candidate for premiership.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Monday an elected Hamas government in the Palestinian territories may be preferable to the movement operating outside the power structure and carrying out armed actions.
Referring to Hamas, Rice said, "I am not so sure that it is better to have these groups running the streets, masked, with guns rather than having them have to face voters and having to deliver," she said.
While the election that produced the Hamas victory was free and fair, she said Hamas has failed in its responsibility to obtain international acceptability. The result, Rice said, has been that the Palestinian people basically have been deprived of international aid.
"The interesting point is would we have ever seen Hamas confronted with that dilemma without elections and without coming in to govern," Rice said, accordin to the AP.